It’s the holiday season, and smart retailers aren’t just advertising their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on television. They are also coming up with social media strategies to increase online sales throughout the remainder of the year. Social is bigger than ever, and you’re guaranteed to reach thousands, if not millions, of people with a few well-placed posts.
It’s also a lot cheaper to run a social media promotion than it is to invest in offline media. Even a Google Adwords campaign can add up, and social media posts cost only a little bit of your time to pull off. Plus, you can hear the reaction from potential customers in real-time, which can help you tweak it in strategic ways to increase response.
Here are nine smart ideas for using social media to boost your online sales this season.
1. Use the Same Hashtag
If you’re doing a big holiday sale, don’t be afraid to hashtag! Hundreds of other businesses will be doing the same thing, and you want to stand out from them by showing up first in any hashtag searches by your potential customers. Try using a variety of hashtags that include generic options like #holidaysale, along with a distinctive hashtag that describes your business’ focus. Once you’ve found a happy medium, stick to it! Use that combination of hashtags across all of your social media platforms.
2. Flash Sale
Flash sales are a great way to drive sales because they create a sense of urgency. Offer a special price for only a short period of time. Announce your intention to have a flash sale in weeks before across your social media sites, but don’t say when it will occur. This will ensure that people will continuously check your feeds to see when it’s taking place. When you hold the flash sale, be prepared for heavy traffic to your site.
3. Offer Coupons
Coupon use has soared during the recession as people seek out cheaper prices and bargains, especially during the holidays. Entice customers into buying your product with a coupon code only available to those who have “liked” your page on Facebook or followed you on Twitter. This will both increase your number of followers and draw in more customers. MerchNow sent this holiday coupon to all their Twitter followers and used the hashtag #holidaysale to ensure the promotion was seen by a large audience.
4. Pin a Contest on Pinterest
Many small businesses are still trying to figure out how to use Pinterest to their advantage. Whether you’ve had a page for months or years, one great strategy is to run a contest on Pinterest that rewards everyone who enters with a coupon code for ten percent off of one item. The winner should receive a bigger prize like a free item. Ask followers to pin the one item they most desire from your catalog page to one of their boards, and pick a winner at random. This is a huge win: not only do you engage your followers, but you also spread the word about your products to others who see participating contestants’ boards.
You can also use your page to run a promotion. Starbucks post their holiday promotions to their Pinterest page in an effort to gain awareness for launch of their holiday offerings. By using their social platforms, they are making it easy for Starbucks fans to stay informed.
5. Promote Free Shipping
During the holiday season, people purchase the majority of their buys online. Shipping costs when buying online can add up, especially if customers buy from multiple companies. Offer free shipping to those who click on a link from your Facebook or Twitter account. You’ll be tickled with how many new “likes” and followers you can get from this promotion, not to mention the boost in sales.
6. Generate Leads through Giveaways
The holidays are the perfect time to generate new leads for your business. Try a giveaway promotion that requires a sign-up page. Include an option for the user to receive a newsletter as an added incentive. Not only will they have a chance to win a great gift or percentage off a service, they will also be signing themselves up for a chance to hear more about your business. Way Easy Gifts is following this trend with their “12 Days of Giveaways” promotion. The user can choose between three different gifts of the same theme and enter to win the prize. Not only is the promotion generating leads and recognition for the brand, it is also increasing their social platform. Every person who enters the promotion must like the Facebook page to check out the gifts.
7. Go Mobile
Do you have a mobile site yet? If not, get one as soon as possible. A huge number of people now access their social media accounts through their phones; in fact, more people use Facebook mobile than Facebook on their desktop. Any sales promotion you put on social media will most likely be accessed on a phone, and you don’t want to annoy your customers with a slow, non-mobile friendly site where buying items is a hassle. If you don’t have much technical expertise, try a mobile commerce provider who can do it for you, like Shopgate.
8. Post Pictures
Strange but true: you’re more likely to get a response to something on Facebook when you post an image along with your words. Encourage your fans to like and share your stuff! Facebook just implemented a new algorithm that will repost a link each time someone comments on it. This means even more exposure for your brand! Any extra “likes” you can get for a status leads to more people seeing it on their friends’ feeds, so be sure to include photos of your products with every promotion you post.
9. Increase Exposure of Your Social Media Sites
You likely have buttons linking to your social media accounts at the top of your web site, which is a great way to get the word out. But do you have links on your email signature? On your blog posts? In your newsletters? Any way you can gain more followers meanss more people who hear about your social media sales.
10. Try Launchrock
If you haven’t heard of Launchrock, you’re missing out. This site builds hype for soon-to-launch products, web sites and even sales. It integrates with your social media accounts automatically and can bring a whole new level of exposure to any campaign you run.
Author Bio: Savannah Marie is a social media enthusiast and editor for her blog. When she isn’t writing, you can find her walking a trail with her favorite yellow lab, Remington, baking something delicious, or reading a classic.